Another "Winter holiday" article originally written for gather.com a few years back.
Santa Claus! Who is he? Where did he come From? (A Brief History)
December 10, 2008 05:58 AM EST (Updated: December 30, 2008 03:01 PM EST)
views: 151 | comments: 12
So, I've been thinking a lot lately, and doing alot of writing about Christmas and the Winter Holidays in general...its become a motif of late for me....and I came upon pondering about Santa Claus.
and I think the images of Santa (while Christians say come from the Catholic St. Nicolas) and to a certain degree I can see that...
but I also think that a lot of the imagry comes from the Norse/Germanic Culture.
In the Bleak Mid-Winters of Northern Europe, it is said that the Chieftian God Odin would fly around in a sleigh pulled by magical reindeer...checking on the people of the land.
since it was cold outside, very cold, people were encouraged to stay indoors where it was warm. and away from the eyes of Odin watching you from the sky, that way if you were doing something you shouldn't be doing he wouldn't catch you.
in the ancient world there was no real "police force" and so this was an attempt to scare people into not doing anything the culture deemed wrong.
so these folktales were created.
"Oh, if you go out in the bleak midwinter and go steal some meade or barley from a neighboring household Odin and his Wild hunt will come and get you."
so I think the ideas of a Jolly guy being nice to everyone and giving them presents might come from St. Nicholas.
But the Reindeer, night time sleigh ride, red suit white fur and long beard idea comes from Odin and his Wild hunt. and also the idea of "punishing bad children" with coal, bags of switches etc.
Here are some follow up links about Santa:
Christmas: The Many Faces Of Santa.
History.com - History Of Christmas - The Evolution of Santa Claus.
So yeah just some pondering and musings.
(Another thing stole from the European Pagans!!!! ...Lol J/k)
Anyone have anything else to add? feel free....